This final week’s theme has been reflection. Every activity we did encouraged us to think back and forward and just think…a lot…about everything. This exercise usually exhausts me but contrary to the norm, this week I’ve felt a sense of peace and calm and assurance that everything is at it “should” be. At the beginning of the month we had to think about all the things we wanted to experience and gain from living Unsettled, we then had to summarise it using one word. My word was: MORE. Last night at our farewell dinner, we remembered our words, and had to choose a new word that described what we got out of the month and now my word is: FULL.
There have been many points over the month where this word perfect described how I feel. And it’s such a simple, silly, little word but I am full. My heart is full. My tummy is full. My mind is full. My creative juices are full. I am full, not stuffed, just full. Everything is enough. And as I pack my suitcase and say goodbye to my fellow Unsettlers from this month, I look forward to returning home and figuring out what living full means in Trinidad, in a different culture with very different people. I hope I get to keep some of this with me. #NoRegrats
Saturday (21): Road Trip
Getting tired of being in air conditioned 7 seaters all the time, we got some VW open top jeeps and headed North Bali to a temple on the lake and a water fall with a pip stop at a chocolate house. It all was as epically great as it sounds. At the temple, some of us chose a paddle boat and after some struggling, paddled around the temple and just floated and was, existing in the most beautiful calm and silence of just being for a while. A 20-minute walk down a million (exaggeration) steps took us to Leke Leke Waterfall and after all the IG pics were taken, just to go be at the foot of the fall, I felt so connected and weirdly grounded.
Sunday (22): Chill
I rode around on my scooter and checked out a new coffee shop, realised my money wasn’t available on my credit card as yet (third world problems), and headed back to the villa where I did some work, read, relaxed and then drank wine with one of my new friend’s Christina, who was prepping for hosting family dinner on Monday. Our wine drinking crew grew with every hour until it became an impromptu wine and share session. It was a magical night. It ended with me scooting another friend off to a bar for a drink and heading to bed to wake up hella early for…
Monday (23): Made! (pronounced Mah-dey)
Because our mini adventure from last week Friday was cancelled due to the weather, we did it on Monday instead. Weather was fine. We got picked up at the villa. Mode of transport: a dump truck. We all climbed in and sat in the tray on a straw mat. The day started with a visit to Made’s house, where he and his family prepared a traditional Balinese breakfast for us. A bit about Made: He’s been our unofficial local tour guide, taxi driver, scooter lessons instructor, all things Bali guy. So it was really great to finally see his compound and let him take us around and show us some sites in his village. However, after breakfast, I got sick, the kind of sick that involves a headache, sweating, light-headedness, diarrhoea, nausea and ultimately, vomiting. So I missed the tour through the rice field, and walking through the water channels that are part of Bali’s irrigation system. I got a scooter ride and met them at the river after feeling slightly better after emptying my bowels. Here, we jumped into the river, swam across it, walked further down the river on the other side and then jumped back in and let the river carry us forward. It was the biggest trust exercise ever! Also one of the more liberating things I’ve ever done as the current just carries you along, no swimming required. The riverbed is also shallow so you can put your feet down and try to stop at any time, but the current will give you a work out. We returned to Made’s compound for lunch, but after some vegetable soup, my stomach needed to be emptied so thus ended my day of experiencing the Bali life. I spent the rest of the day in bed, extremely nauseous and dehydrated. I stumbled downstairs for Tina’s Maltese family dinner but couldn’t eat anything or be much fun due to weakness, even though everything smelt and looked amazing. I got some electrolytes and went back to bed where I slept for 13 hours. Grateful for coconut water and electrolyte packets.
Tuesday (24): Recovered
I slept in and missed the temple visit to Heaven’s Gate. But I was able to eat breakfast without any regurgitation so we give thanks for the small things. Feeling a lot better, I went to Outpost and worked for the day. In the evening, I went to Sherri’s workshop. She’s a career coach and successful author among many other accolades and guided us through Career Empowerment and stepping into a more purposeful and meaningful career. It was great. I got in and went to bed early feeling ready for whatever happened next.
Wednesday (25): Getting Spiritual
We shifted Lunch and Learn to Breakfast and Learn so we could have the day to ourselves since it’s our last week in Bali. We reflected on words we took away from the people we met, the place/location, and purposeful living. Then three of us went off to a temple visit day of our own as we missed the purification temple visit before. We went to Besakih Temple, which is sort of the mother temple in Bali, all types of Hindus from all the villages are welcome there and there are over 20 temples on the compound. We learned a lot about the meanings for the colours and the specific numbers for everything.
Black represents Vishnu, god of protection, element: water.
Red represents Brahma, god of creation, element: fire.
White/Yellow represent Shiva, god of destruction, element: wind.
This is their holy trinity. The power of 3. It’s also linked back to Tri Hita Karana, harmony among people, nature and with God, so their temples have three levels: the first level is for the people to gather in, the second level is for nature, and the third level is inside the temple to pray.
After many photos in front of many of the temples’ gates, we went to Tirta Empul, a purification temple, where we changed into a sarong, made an offering, asked permission from the gods to be there, asked for what we wanted, and gave thanks (three again). After this, you go into the very cold water with koi swimming around and go under each of the 11 spouts of holy water (except 3 which are used for cremation rites), putting your head under 3 times for each one, asking for what you want. The last one is for treating bad dreams, and then there’s an additional two that deals with good versus evil. Then…you go dry off and change into temple wear. For women this is a fitted top (typically made out of lace), with sleeves that reach to your elbow, a sarong as a skirt and a sash around your waist tied to the left side. We went into the temple, gave an offering of flowers, incense and money to the priest, said some prayers to the Trinity and Supreme God, received holy water first as a sprinkling, then to drink 3 times, and lastly to wipe our faces with. After this we take rice and place it on our foreheads and chest, this is meant to bring us prosperity. A lot of explanation got lost in translation along the way because the entire ritual went by quickly but based on pure energy and feelings only, it was relaxing, special and almost renewing. Balinese people typically do this on special days like the full moon and new moon.
We ended the day heading back to the villa and gathering for Michelle’s workshop, a sip n’ chat on mental health. She works for a suicide prevention hotline back in Colorado and guided us through an amazing 2 hours of sharing, feelings and just raw emotions. We ended the session by going around in a circle, spending 2 minutes on each person, telling them what we love about them. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we left there feeling so full and great.
The day didn’t end there. A couple of us went to salsa night which ended as soon as we arrived so we bar hopped for a bit before heading home to our beds and into the arms of Morpheus.
Thursday (26): Relax
During the first week in Bali, I managed to book an appointment at this hard to book spot: Karsa Spa. Highly recommend. I had an Intuitive Heart Massage (90 mins), a body scrub and flower bath (60 mins). I walked out of that room, a new woman. I then headed out in search of the Blanco Museum. I kept seeing the sign every where we went: BLANCO MUSEUM and felt like I needed to see what was so special about this museum. Huge disappointment and a waste of my time. He’s a celebrated Spanish artist who lived in Bali for a long time and got married here and created a shrine for his life and life’s work here. He is called the Dali of Bali which I found very insulting to Salvador Dali and his work. This nickname really only came about because they resemble, as Blanco’s talents do not compare to that of Dali. A trip to a French patisserie and a ham and cheese croissant shifted my mood and I met up with some folks and headed to the art market to pick up some things in preparation for our departure on Sunday. Then back to the villa for Tsholo’s workshop on storytelling. Tsholo is a journalist/producer for a news network in South Africa. We got lucky with a double session because Dice (Candice, an art teacher from Louisiana) hosted an Art Cards night where we drew designs on small cards based on a word picked out of a bowl. Things got quite interesting! The night ended with us drinking, eating, chatting about everything from our families to child bearing to jury duty. After midnight, a sewer scent attacked our noses forcing us to bed, which was probably for the best because we’d still be there talking about our lives.
Friday (27): Explore
I woke up early and went to Sabrina’s final poetry workshop at 8am. This week we focused on the instructional poem and I shared one I wrote in college. Then I ran away to go to my first yoga class in Bali. How did I live in Bali for a month and not go to yoga? I honestly cannot answer you but I figured I should go before I left so I went to a 9am Bikram Yoga class at Ubud Yoga Centre. It was hot. It was great. I didn’t die. Tsholo, Tina and I grabbed breakfast after and planned our Unsettled World Tour: where we visit each person’s country over the next however long it takes us. First stop: Cape Town! We dispersed and I headed to Denpasar to check out the Bali Arts Festival that’s going on for a month. It’s been on my to do list before I got here and it wasn’t a priority for anyone else so I made it mine and went. I realised the reason it wasn’t focused on is because it’s not a tourist trap, it is designed and created for Balinese people. Nothing was translated, nothing was explained and there were loads of Balinese families there enjoying the space. It was the most authentic thing I had done while I was here and I’m glad I made it before I left. I should mention I also had to deal with a lot of stares at my locs…more than usual since I wasn’t in a tourist area.
I sped back to Ubud, reluctantly returned my scooter and got ready for our farewell dinner. And that’s about all I’ll say about that haha.
Now it’s Saturday afternoon, I’m 90% packed, all my bills paid off, said goodbye to almost half of the group already, planning where to go for dinner with the remaining clan, feeling great. Feeling glad and grateful that I got this experience, got to meet these people and surprisingly, connect with so many of them. Grateful for new friendships and family. Grateful for privilege. Grateful for culture. Grateful for Trini food. Just grateful!